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    Chapter 2

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    Chapter 3
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    Madame Raquin had formerly been a mercer at Vernon. For close upon
    five-and-twenty years, she had kept a small shop in that town. A few
    years after the death of her husband, becoming subject to fits of
    faintness, she sold her business. Her savings added to the price of this
    sale placed a capital of 40,000 francs in her hand which she invested so
    that it brought her in an income of 2,000 francs a year. This sum amply
    sufficed for her requirements. She led the life of a recluse. Ignoring
    the poignant joys and cares of this world, she arranged for herself a
    tranquil existence of peace and happiness.

    At an annual rental of 400 francs she took a small house with a garden
    descending to the edge of the Seine. This enclosed, quiet residence
    vaguely recalled the cloister. It stood in the centre of large fields,
    and was approached by a narrow path. The windows of the dwelling opened
    to the river and to the solitary hillocks on the opposite bank. The good
    lady, who had passed the half century, shut herself up in this solitary
    retreat, where along with her son Camille and her niece Therese, she
    partook of serene joy.

    Although Camille was then twenty, his mother continued to spoil him like
    a little child. She adored him because she had shielded him from death,
    throughout a tedious childhood of constant suffering. The boy contracted
    every fever, every imaginable malady, one after the other. Madame Raquin
    struggled for fifteen years against these terrible evils, which arrived
    in rapid succession to tear her son away from her. She vanquished them
    all by patience, care, and adoration. Camille having grown up, rescued
    from death, had contracted a shiver from the torture of the repeated
    shocks he had undergone. Arrested in his growth, he remained short and
    delicate. His long, thin limbs moved slowly and wearily. But his mother
    loved him all the more on account of this weakness that arched his back.
    She observed his thin, pale face with triumphant tenderness when she
    thought of how she had brought him back to life more than ten times

    During the brief spaces of repose that his sufferings allowed him,
    the child attended a commercial school at Vernon. There he learned
    orthography and arithmetic. His science was limited to the four rules,
    and a very superficial knowledge of grammar. Later on, he took lessons
    in writing and bookkeeping. Madame Raquin began to tremble when advised
    to send her son to college. She knew he would die if separated from her,
    and she said the books would kill him. So Camille remained ignorant, and
    this ignorance seemed to increase his weakness.

    At eighteen, having nothing to do, bored to death at the delicate
    attention of his mother, he took a situation as clerk with a linen
    merchant, where he earned 60 francs a month. Being of a restless nature
    idleness proved unbearable. He found greater calm and better health in
    this labour of a brute which kept him bent all day long over invoices,
    over enormous additions, each figure of which he patiently added up. At
    night, broken down with fatigue, without an idea in his head, he enjoyed
    infinite delight in the doltishness that settled on him. He had to
    quarrel with his mother to go with the dealer in linen. She wanted to
    keep him always with her, between a couple of blankets, far from the
    accidents of life.

    But the young man spoke as master. He claimed work as children claim
    toys, not from a feeling of duty, but by instinct, by a necessity of
    nature. The tenderness, the devotedness of his mother had instilled into
    him an egotism that was ferocious. He fancied he loved those who pitied
    and caressed him; but, in reality, he lived apart, within himself,
    loving naught but his comfort, seeking by all possible means to increase
    his enjoyment. When the tender affection of Madame Raquin disgusted him,
    he plunged with delight into a stupid occupation that saved him from
    infusions and potions.

    In the evening, on his return from the office, he ran to the bank of the
    Seine with his cousin Therese who was then close upon eighteen. One day,
    sixteen years previously, while Madame Raquin was still a mercer, her
    brother Captain Degans brought her a little girl in his arms. He had
    just arrived from Algeria.

    "Here is a child," said he with a smile, "and you are her aunt. The
    mother is dead and I don't know what to do with her. I'll give her to

    The mercer took the child, smiled at her and kissed her rosy cheeks.
    Although Degans remained a week at Vernon, his sister barely put a
    question to him concerning the little girl he had brought her. She
    understood vaguely that the dear little creature was born at Oran, and
    that her mother was a woman of the country of great beauty. The Captain,
    an hour before his departure, handed his sister a certificate of birth
    in which Therese, acknowledged by him to be his child, bore his name. He
    rejoined his regiment, and was never seen again at Vernon, being killed
    a few years later in Africa.

    Therese grew up under the fostering care of her aunt, sleeping in the
    same bed as Camille. She who had an iron constitution, received the
    treatment of a delicate child, partaking of the same medicine as her
    cousin, and kept in the warm air of the room occupied by the invalid.
    For hours she remained crouching over the fire, in thought, watching the
    flames before her, without lowering her eyelids.

    This obligatory life of a convalescent caused her to retire within
    herself. She got into the habit of talking in a low voice, of moving
    about noiselessly, of remaining mute and motionless on a chair with
    expressionless, open eyes. But, when she raised an arm, when she
    advanced a foot, it was easy to perceive that she possessed feline
    suppleness, short, potent muscles, and that unmistakable energy and
    passion slumbered in her soporous frame. Her cousin having fallen
    down one day in a fainting fit, she abruptly picked him up and
    carried him--an effort of strength that turned her cheeks scarlet. The
    cloistered life she led, the debilitating regimen to which she found
    herself subjected, failed to weaken her thin, robust form. Only her face
    took a pale, and even a slightly yellowish tint, making her look
    almost ugly in the shade. Ever and anon she went to the window, and
    contemplated the opposite houses on which the sun threw sheets of gold.

    When Madame Raquin sold her business, and withdrew to the little place
    beside the river, Therese experienced secret thrills of joy. Her aunt
    had so frequently repeated to her: "Don't make a noise; be quiet," that
    she kept all the impetuosity of her nature carefully concealed within
    her. She possessed supreme composure, and an apparent tranquillity that
    masked terrible transports. She still fancied herself in the room of
    her cousin, beside a dying child, and had the softened movements, the
    periods of silence, the placidity, the faltering speech of an old woman.

    When she saw the garden, the clear river, the vast green hillocks
    ascending on the horizon, she felt a savage desire to run and shout. She
    felt her heart thumping fit to burst in her bosom; but not a muscle of
    her face moved, and she merely smiled when her aunt inquired whether she
    was pleased with her new home.

    Life now became more pleasant for her. She maintained her supple gait,
    her calm, indifferent countenance, she remained the child brought up
    in the bed of an invalid; but inwardly she lived a burning, passionate
    existence. When alone on the grass beside the water, she would lie down
    flat on her stomach like an animal, her black eyes wide open, her body
    writhing, ready to spring. And she stayed there for hours, without a
    thought, scorched by the sun, delighted at being able to thrust her
    fingers in the earth. She had the most ridiculous dreams; she looked
    at the roaring river in defiance, imagining that the water was about
    to leap on her and attack her. Then she became rigid, preparing for the
    defence, and angrily inquiring of herself how she could vanquish the

    At night, Therese, appeased and silent, stitched beside her aunt, with
    a countenance that seemed to be dozing in the gleam that softly glided
    from beneath the lamp shade. Camille buried in an armchair thought
    of his additions. A word uttered in a low voice, alone disturbed, at
    moments, the peacefulness of this drowsy home.

    Madame Raquin observed her children with serene benevolence. She had
    resolved to make them husband and wife. She continued to treat her son
    as if he were at death's door; and she trembled when she happened to
    reflect that she would one day die herself, and would leave him alone
    and suffering. In that contingency, she relied on Therese, saying to
    herself that the young girl would be a vigilant guardian beside Camille.
    Her niece with her tranquil manner, and mute devotedness, inspired her
    with unlimited confidence. She had seen Therese at work, and wished to
    give her to her son as a guardian angel. This marriage was a solution to
    the matter, foreseen and settled in her mind.

    The children knew for a long time that they were one day to marry. They
    had grown up with this idea, which had thus become familiar and natural
    to them. The union was spoken of in the family as a necessary and
    positive thing. Madame Raquin had said:

    "We will wait until Therese is one-and-twenty."

    And they waited patiently, without excitement, and without a blush.

    Camille, whose blood had become impoverished by illness, had remained
    a little boy in the eyes of his cousin. He kissed her as he kissed his
    mother, by habit, without losing any of his egotistic tranquillity. He
    looked upon her as an obliging comrade who helped him to amuse himself,
    and who, if occasion offered, prepared him an infusion. When playing
    with her, when he held her in his arms, it was as if he had a boy to
    deal with. He experienced no thrill, and at these moments the idea
    had never occurred to him of planting a warm kiss on her lips as she
    struggled with a nervous laugh to free herself.

    The girl also seemed to have remained cold and indifferent. At times
    her great eyes rested on Camille and fixedly gazed at him with sovereign
    calm. On such occasions her lips alone made almost imperceptible little
    motions. Nothing could be read on her expressionless countenance, which
    an inexorable will always maintained gentle and attentive. Therese
    became grave when the conversation turned to her marriage, contenting
    herself with approving all that Madame Raquin said by a sign of the
    head. Camille went to sleep.

    On summer evenings, the two young people ran to the edge of the water.
    Camille, irritated at the incessant attentions of his mother, at times
    broke out in open revolt. He wished to run about and make himself ill,
    to escape the fondling that disgusted him. He would then drag Therese
    along with him, provoking her to wrestle, to roll in the grass. One day,
    having pushed his cousin down, the young girl bounded to her feet with
    all the savageness of a wild beast, and, with flaming face and bloodshot
    eyes, fell upon him with clenched fists. Camille in fear sank to the

    Months and years passed by, and at length the day fixed for the marriage
    arrived. Madame Raquin took Therese apart, spoke to her of her father
    and mother, and related to her the story of her birth. The young girl
    listened to her aunt, and when she had finished speaking, kissed her,
    without answering a word.

    At night, Therese, instead of going into her own room, which was on
    the left of the staircase, entered that of her cousin which was on the
    right. This was all the change that occurred in her mode of life. The
    following day, when the young couple came downstairs, Camille had
    still his sickly languidness, his righteous tranquillity of an egotist.
    Therese still maintained her gentle indifference, and her restrained
    expression of frightful calmness.
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